Edward Glassman : What is Creativity?
What is Creativity?
By Edward Glassman, PhD
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my book "Creativity Triggers for College Students": "WHAT IS CREATIVITY?"
Once again, what is creativity?
Creativity is the combining of old bits & pieces in your mind (and also in your surroundings) to produce 'new and useful' ideas. It is the conversion of old ideas into new ideas. It is NOT the creation of new ideas out of nothing; that doesn't happen.
For example: To invent a clock radio, you must know about clocks and radios, and to think about them in an environment that catalyzes their combination in your mind. Thus, to be creative, you need many bits & pieces in your mind, and you have to establish an environment containing creativity triggers so combining takes place. That is what most of my new book and these columns are about: CREATIVITY TRIGGERS. Use this concept to enhance your creativity.
What are the creativity triggers?
Observed creativity triggers vary widely. A chance remark. Deep focus on a problem. Deliberate thought and incubation. Meditation. A discussion with other people. Dreaming. A shower. A walk in Nature. Riding quietly in a vehicle. Lying down to rest. Laughing. Having fun. A relaxed and quiet state. The creativity techniques described in my book. People report all these creativity triggers succeed at one time or another.
Of these, only the creativity triggers described in my new book target, focus, and speed up the process, so you do not have to wait & hope for new ideas to appear; they will appear inexorably.
How do these creativity triggers work?
Unknown. Each trigger has a sudden effect to produce a new & useful idea. Creativity triggers help provide new ideas that may work by themselves or, failing that, add to the bits & pieces in your mind. This process makes them very useful.
Advanced creativity triggers contain basic elements and underlying principles. Once you appreciate their fine points, you can use them more effectively. You can even design your own creativity triggers by combining elements from different triggers to fit special needs.
Here are some basic elements imbedded in creativity triggers that help the creative process. I explain them in detail in my new book.
1. Generate many alternatives & avoid the 'quick fix'
Consider this situation. You perceive a problem you want to solve. An idea flashes through your mind. You like it. It appears to work. You shout eureka, and the creative process ends. Actually it hardly started. This is the quick fix.
The quick fix only scratches the surface of the alternatives available had you continued the creative process. The quick fix keeps you from a better alternative. To avoid the quick fix, generate at least five new alternatives. One hundred is better, but who's counting.
2. Ignore premature criteria
3. Avoid premature evaluation
So escape old thinking patterns and do NOT evaluate new ideas too soon. New ideas are often fragile petals that cannot survive the gauntlet of critical thinking. So stop your internal gauntlet and instant evaluation.